Collection of bird calls climbs Australian music charts

In Australia, the best hits of the day may surprise you. Just a week after its release, an album featuring 40 years of bird calls took fifth place on the music charts, edging out Abba, Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé.

Songs of Disappearance features calls from 53 endangered Australian bird species, which have been recorded over a 40-year period. Proceeds from the album will benefit BirdLife Australia, an avian conservation organization.

“The title track celebrates the incredible diversity of Australia’s soundscape and highlights what we risk losing without taking action,” the album’s description reads. “Immerse yourself in a chorus of iconic cockatoos, the hum of winter birds, an eerie symphony of seabirds and the haunting call of one of the last remaining nocturnal parrots.”

The project is a collaboration between renowned nature recorder David Stewart, the Bowerbird Collective, BirdLife Australia, Charles Darwin University and Mervyn Street of Mangkaja Arts. It all started when Stephen Garnett, author of the Australian Bird Action Plan, asked Anthony Albrecht of the Bowerbird Collective if the collective could help promote the action plan. The action plan highlights that one in six birds in Australia is threatened with extinction.

So Albrecht and Simone Slattery, co-founder and violinist of Bowerbird Collective, got down to work arranging the songs of 53 endangered birds into an opening track for the now chart-topping album, Songs of Disappearance. The calls and songs were recorded by Stewart, whose collections of nature recordings are held at the British Library, the National Sound Archive, and the Macaulay Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

“I listened to the birds [as recorded by Stewart] one after another and I found it incredibly moving, ”Slattery told The Guardian. “I kept listening until I could feel a structure coming to me, like an original dawn chorus. Some of these sounds will shock listeners because they are extremely punchy, they are not melodious at all. It’s clicks, it’s rattles, it’s screeches and deep bass notes.

For interested listeners in Australia, you can purchase a hard copy of the CD, and digital downloads are available worldwide. The album, available here, costs $ 9.08 and features 54 tracks ranging from 11 seconds to 2 minutes, 55 seconds. The songs are also available individually for purchase for $ 1.54 each, in case you just want to replay the title song on a loop or plan to fall asleep to the sound of the Mallee Whipbird.

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